Casey Stoner gets off to a flying start in practice for the season-opening Qatar MotoGP race

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    Casey Stoner gets off to a flying start in practice for the season-opening Qatar MotoGP race

    Post by Ross on 10th April 2009, 17:58

    Stoner dominates first Qatar practice

    Casey Stoner began his bid to reclaim the MotoGP title in commanding style by dominating the first practice session of the year in Qatar.

    The Ducati rider was unstoppable in the opening session at the floodlit Losail track. He hit the front from the start with an early 1m57.7s banker lap, and later improved to a 1m57.053s - putting him over a second clear of the field at the time.

    Stoner's arch-rival Valentino Rossi soon started narrowing that gap, although even the Yamaha rider's best effort left him 0.386 seconds down on the Australian. But the duo were more evenly matched on longer runs, both lapping consistently in the mid-1m57s region.

    Colin Edwards had a superb night for Tech 3 Yamaha, beating works Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo to third place.

    Alex de Angelis was a surprise fifth on the satellite-specification Gresini Honda. His team-mate Toni Elias's factory-standard bike was back in 12th, 0.6s slower.

    Suzuki's strong form continued as Loris Capirossi burst into the top six on his final run, although this team also saw a big gap between its riders, with Chris Vermeulen only 14th.

    Pramac Racing's rookie Finn Mika Kallio maintained his position amongst the frontrunners having impressed greatly in the final pre-season test at Jerez. The 250cc graduate lurked around the top eight throughout the 45-minute session, ending the night in seventh place and as comfortably the best rookie.

    Andrea Dovizioso kept the beleaguered works Honda team in the top three at first, but was later pushed back to eighth. His injured team-mate Dani Pedrosa was slowest of all as he took to the track for the first time since his massive testing accident a month ago.

    Marco Melandri gave the Hayate Racing squad some encouragement with a very promising ninth place on his Kawasaki, ahead of LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet.

    Further back, Nicky Hayden remained off the pace on the second works Ducati and was only 13th, while Sete Gibernau (Francisco Hernando Ducati) began his comeback with 16th position.

    1. Casey Stoner Ducati 1m57.053s
    2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m57.439s + 0.386s
    3. Colin Edwards Yamaha 1m57.835s + 0.782s
    4. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m58.272s + 1.219s
    5. Alex de Angelis Honda 1m58.452s + 1.399s
    6. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m58.468s + 1.415s
    7. Mika Kallio Ducati 1m58.499s + 1.446s
    8. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m58.506s + 1.453s
    9. Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1m58.757s + 1.704s
    10. Randy de Puniet Honda 1m58.771s + 1.718s
    11. James Toseland Yamaha 1m58.850s + 1.797s
    12. Toni Elias Honda 1m59.094s + 2.041s
    13. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m59.158s + 2.105s
    14. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1m59.348s + 2.295s
    15. Yuki Takahashi Honda 1m59.437s + 2.384s
    16. Sete Gibernau Ducati 2m00.595s + 3.542s
    17. Niccolo Canepa Ducati 2m00.597s + 3.544s
    18. Dani Pedrosa Honda 2m01.435s + 4.382s


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